Connecting Controversy and Complexity

Thursday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms
Poster Presentation Part of Teaching Controversial Topics


Don Haas, Paleontological Research Institution
Eric Pyle, James Madison University
Robert Ross, Cornell University-Endowed Colleges
The authors share interest and experience in programming for both teaching about complex adaptive systems (CASs) and about controversial issues. Controversial issues are a subset of complex issues, as these issues always (we suggest):
are evolving;
involve the interplay of different disciplines;
are composed of multiple nested subsystems (indicating an importance for understandings of scale);
are better understood from perspectives that include contextualization in space and time (perspectives that include the history of the system);
are partially defined by feedback; and;
are not necessarily greater than, but qualitatively different from the sum of their parts;

There are many more shared characteristics than space allows.

In this program example, we will share approaches and resources from our experience in climate and energy education, especially as related to hydrofracking and the Critical Zone Observatory Network. Shared resources will include rules of thumb for teaching about controversial issues, and an adaptation of Craven's "Credibility Spectrum," for evaluating the reliability of media as related to any controversial issue.
The session will draw from experiences in a range of settings that includes middle school through college in the science classroom, and teacher professional development and public programming.

While attention will be given to both formal and informal education, special attention will be given to tying the teaching of complex and controversial issues to the NGSS and its focus on "three-dimensional science".

Presentation Media

Connecting Controversy and Complexity (Acrobat (PDF) 7.3MB Jul17 15)